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Wood alcohol, not whisky!

Compañía Destiladora Quellón
Although the main Chiloé island railway never achieved its dream of linking up with other towns, Puerto Quellón had its own narrow gauge industrial railway. The town had a large wood alcohol factory from about 1906 and a five km. railway was built to bring the necessary cord wood in to the distillation plant. The business had initially been created by the SA Austral de Maderas with financial backing from the F. H. Mayer company of Hanover in Germany.

Christopher Walker suggests that the line was of 60cm. gauge and that it had three Orenstein & Koppel 0-6-0Ts (Nos. 7489, 7490 of 1920 and 12686 of 1935). Certainly these three locomotives are recorded in the O. & K. loco lists as having been delivered for 'Comunidad Quellón' (1). The company seems to have had several names for, after a period with the title at the head of the page, by the 1930s they became the Destilatorio de Quellón SA. At some stage they had also traded under the name of the Sociedad Explotadora de Chiloé y Destilatorio S.A.

The plant was to the immediate west of the town centre, along the waterfront (calle Capitan Alcazar). The site was cleared after the factory closed around 1952 and later reused for a fish freezing plant. This part of Chiloé sank about 2 metres as a result of the Valdivia earthquake in 1960 and as a result it may be difficult to visualise the original seashore.

Neither of the two museums in the town have any photographs of the plant or its railway. However, the picture below was found by Señor Raul Moroni in the University of Chile's online collection (2). It shows a single line of track stretching out along the muelle from the plant. The original caption implied that this was the 'establicimiento de la Compañia Austral.'


From the other end of the muelle it can be seen that the single track curves west along the shore.




A photo, recently discovered by Señor Moroni, shows a small German-built steam loco and a coupler of bogie flats, one with vertical stakes appropriate for the carriage of timber.




A German-built loco, probably O&K 12686 of 1935, with a selection of empty and loaded timber wagons.



Take care not to get confused between each of the place-names beginning with a 'Q' in Chiloe. As well as Quellón, there are Queilén, Quilán, and Quilantar.

Chiloé is a well wooded island, and there have been many sawmills, not least to provide sleepers (cross-ties) to the main Chilean railways. It is quite possible that sawmills ran railways. Indeed a recent report in a Chilean newspaper showed a wooden railed line with a petrol driven trolley somewhere in the island. There is scope here for more research by someone with a week to spare and a 4x4 vehicle.

1 O. & K. Dampflokomotiven - Lieferverzeichnis 1892-1945 (A list of all O. & K. steam locos with their initial destinations) by R. Bude, K. Fricke & Dr. M. Murray, 1978. Railroadiana Verlag.
2 The 'Biblioteca digital' of the University of Chile contains a large number of old photos, though most of the railway related ones were taken up in the 'salitreras' of the Atacama. The photo above can be found by using this link to reach the site, going to the 'Fotografías' section and then moving on to the third page using the links at the foot of each page.


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The other 60cm branches

the 1922 75cm gauge lines

Chapter 6

The Chiloe Island 60cm gauge railway


Site map

Main pages




Rolling stock


Along the route

Photo album

Surviving relics

Quellon distillery

The other 60cm branches

The Capitan Pastene line

The Chillan to Las Termas line

The Linares to Colbún line

The FC Militar


1 Itinerary of route

2 Route map and profile

3 Analysis of Chilean 60cm gauge locos

4 Loco diagrams

5 Documents from prior to construction

6 Documents during construction

7 Documents from later years

8 Rolling stock purchase

9 Linares - Colbún map

10 Capitan Pastene map

11 Cap Pastene line extras

12 Chillán extra images

13 FC Militar map etc

14 FC Militar surviving relics

15 FC Militar extra images

16 Memories of the FC de Chiloé

Home page Central of Chubut FCS to Neuquén FCE broad gauge EFE broad gauge Chiloe Island FCE 75cm gauge Estancia railways Coal  railways Ushuaia old & new The South Atlantic Salt railways Industrial lines Resources